Friday, August 31, 2018
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
J tells her friend, and her friend says:
- So are you two talking about it?
- Oh, yes.Yes.
[What J could have added is:
- And for months now, we’ve been trying, really trying, to get to the point where not every conversation, inside & out of the house, all day & all evening long and even in the small hours, is about flaming cancer. But we’re not there yet.]
At this point, before I post further, I think it appropriate that I add a few lines about my situation; inevitably it will be in the background of anything else that I write.
I have Stage IV Renal cancer, which means that, although the (massive!) 13cm tumour was removed, along with my right kidney, adrenal gland and some lymph nodes, it was not before cancerous cells had spread, in my case, to my lungs. Stage IV is not curable. Treatment is aimed solely at managing it, trying to keep it under control for as long as possible.
Dr Google, whose bedside manner we know leaves a lot to be desired, tells me this: statistically, I have only an 8% chance of still being alive in 5 years’ time.
Let’s say I’m lucky enough to be in that 8%: will I still be well at that time or will my health be obviously failing? I’m 59. Let’s say I get 7 years: that will barely get me to State Pension age. It seems awfully presumptuous of me to double the statistical average and expect 10. I had always taken it for granted somewhat, as one does, that I’d live at least as long as my parents did. They died in their late seventies, which seems a hopelessly long way off from where I am now. One grandfather lived to 99 and, well, that just seems like the wildest science fiction.
It’s now 13 weeks since my radical nephrectomy, major surgery, and I am recovering well. Well enough, certainly, to have swum in the sea 5 times in 4 days (and done a foolish amount of walking) at the Suffolk coast last week. (I overdid it. I knew I would! We all knew I would.) I am not on any medication at the moment and have no further hospital appointments until November-ish, when another CT scan will tell us if the things on my lungs have grown, either in size or number, and thus whether or not I will be introduced to one of several unpronounceable drug names. While I feel good and have no symptoms, I am happy to put the start of drug treatment off for as long as possible.
I read that they are making dramatic advances in kidney cancer these days. I can hope, but I cannot assume, that something will come along in time to benefit me; I guess my main target, tricky enough in itself, is to get to that 5 year mark. Anything else, well...
Friday, August 17, 2018
Monday, August 06, 2018
Friday, August 03, 2018
In the course of this endless heatwave summer, one particular measure of my recovery: how easily could I manage the walk from the car, parked at the top end of the Embankment, down to & across the Butterfly Bridge, and from there to the café at the water’s edge?
The breeze whispers through the reeds. We talk about that thing we always talk about these days.
Once, there was a cormorant at the top of its own tree, the tree on its own island. Beyond where, until recently, the rowboats were all tied up. We swirl with a straw and clink the cubes.
iced lattés the splash as a tern drops into the lake
the face brushed by moth wings shows surprise
[with] blue sky
& ghost moon
beside[s] the lake
& unripe berries
the small dog
the clouds [in]
above it all
things in the roof gutter
. . .